Wednesday 4th July 2018
Nearly 2 months after original TUG reconstruction surgery. Then I’ve had the Hematoma op on the boob and then a month ago I had my thighs re opened and operated on. So here are some updated pictures of how healing is going. I am all sealed now. I have had the big black hardcore stitches out. But I still have the underlying dissolvable threads in which are sore. I still have numbness most of my core body and I still have burning sensation over my thighs especially. I am suffering from nerve pain and really bad muscle pain in my thighs. Because of the fibromyalgia (muscle), the hypersensitivity (burning skin), medication side effects (bone and joint pain) and more all on top of all this surgery I suppose it’s no wonder I really hurt a lot. But I’m trying my best.
Dr Liptay-Wagner is going to discuss with Mr Griffiths about getting me referred to the pain team in Colchester to keep me monitored. Although I am so lucky as my GP and Pharmacy is brilliant. Plus I have some limited knowledge from working in the pharmacy myself. He is also going to try and refer me to the Physiotherapy for some Hydrotherapy in Colchester to help with my legs. We shall see as this is our NHS. But at the moment I am doing my exercises, stretches and I am massaging my legs to try and help with the pain – of course using my oils! I can’t do any more than I’m doing. As soon as I am able to drive I will be able to get myself swimming to walk in the pool myself.
Here are some updated of photos of the wounds now….
The new boob…. it has some scar build up and it’s very lumpy so will need tweaking. It is a slight different colour as it’s skin from my inner thigh. Plus they always put as much in as possible as it’s easier to take away. Hopefully it will end up more similar to the right side. But it’s pretty even in size and feels even which is such a relief. It’s still very numb but then again the other side is so I doubt that will come back. I’ll need a little op to smooth out in about 6 months after it has settled but it’s healed well…
The thighs are not oozing wounds any more…. Still very very sore but at least I’m healing. So in these pics you have front and rear. The blue dots are where they used the dye for my lymph nodes when they needed to get in and seal them. The other dots are scars from my drains and the indents are where chunks of my muscle have been removed. This is where I feel a lot of pain.
This is a view from my inner thighs – you can see in the lower phots how my thighs are distorted. I’m hoping that once I’m back to exercising properly this may improve. I will be doing my best!
But in underwear I can camourflage! I am the queen of camourflage! Even Dr Liptay-Wagner was impressed with how I look in underwear – obviously from a medical point of view!
Even my arse will look ok in the future with a bit of yoga!
Thursday 21st June 2018
On Monday I had the Pico dressings taken off – which are the vacuum dressings with the little battery packs. They have worked well and dried out my leg wounds well. I have wrapped myself with cling film a lot lately to be able to shower. It works long enough to keep everything relatively dry. This could be a new trend!
I had a few stitches taken out and thank you Heidi for coming because hell did that hurt. It felt like wasp stings in my groin. Not good at all – I couldn’t even speak through the pain! That’s unusual for me as usually chatting and watching takes my mind off things.
Today Phil came with me to see Mr Griffiths and his assistant Charles (who is so lovely and made a very good job of sewing up my other boob) to see how my wound was healing and to remove the rest of the stitches. I was dreading this appointment
I know this is the nurses job but I pretty much begged Mr Griffiths to take the stitches out himself. I must remember I am not his only patient and he was so busy today! I am so greatful that Charles agreed to take the stitches out for me – I love charles for doing this for me. He had his gear – magnifying glasses and scalpels! I tried my best to be brave and I think I was pretty good considering we lost count of the stitches after 1 and they were all embedded so he had to dig them out and cut them. OMG so painful – like removing deep splinters from my groin. I do not want to have to go through that again with no pain relief. But I must admit I feel very sore but better they are out – just like splinters!
So, very sore but there is no more zombie rotting flesh and I have all sealed up and healing well. Now to continue to rest, and heal. Still have to wear support pants as I have a few lumps and bumps. But Mr G is happy and I am ok. Back in 2 weeks. Hopefully I am getting there!
Friday 15th June 2018
So, surgery number 3 on this little project happened on Tuesday 5th June. Mr Griffiths managed to squeeze me into his Trauma surgery day. So first thing went down again. This surgery was to re open both leg wounds, cut out all the dead flesh, wash and clean out, check and seal off any leaky lymph nodes (the dye is the blue splodges in the photos and it makes my wee bright green!), then glue flesh to muscle, glue wounds from inside, and sew up with super stronger big black old fashion quilt stitch! will leave some nasty scars but we need these to hold and heal. At the moment I don’t care. I may later if they rub on everything but at the moment better than oozing rotting wounds!
So 3 hours later, which was double what he expected but done and good news was no sign of infection! And omg when I woke up the pain was so bad so as usual in recovery for hours again. I’m getting used to this now. I have also had an impinged nerve to try and deal with as my legs were up in surgical stirrups and that has hindered everything even more as so difficult to bear weight – that’s what the physios think anyway – I just really hope it’s not permanent nerve damage. But I have had complete bed rest for a week this time and I am resting a lot – I am having to as the pain has been even worse than the first time round. I can’t ever think of cycling ever again!
Stitches wrap right round from mid front of my groin to round the back below each bum cheek – ouch ouch ouch.
I needed Gas and Air to help take the edge off the pain when the dressing were removed and then re applied…..that was a blessing and Mr Griffiths said it would keep me occupied! Mixed with my pain meds it worked quite well but still very painful.
I had a Vacuum pump on to suck out any ooze after surgery and then I had some PICO dressings to replace. Basically it’s a big sticky absorbant plaster that can stay on for about 5 days – used loads in burns. It has a little battery pack attached to each that when turned on sucks out the air. It sucks out and absorbs and evaporates moisture from the wound to help dry out and heal…. very clever… and very expensive at £750 each! So my inner thighs have cost over £4,000 in dressings alone so far. Clever stuff if you want to read more….www.smith-nephew.com/key-products/advanced-wound-management/pico/
It’s like having tangled fairy lights! 2 drains, 2 picos, a catheter while I was on bedrest. Not to mention IV canulas. Lots of cables!
Saturday 2nd June 2018
Wounds not healing no matter how much spinach or sweet potatoes or protein and healthy eating! So frustrating for me! Mr Griffiths is a perfectionist and I can tell he is disappointed but I am confident he will mend me. Just going to take another operation to sort out…. so in I go again on Tuesday….
As you can see I have a black hole in my inner thigh! Proper gross! I can see my insides! Will explain op in next blog post – wish me luck this works! meanwhile I will continue with lots of healthy foods and rest! I am getting so much better at ignoring the dead flies! #blindtodirtlikeateenager
Tuesday 29th May 2018
It would have been my dad’s birthday today! Hope he is up there looking after me somehow as I am having a really difficult time at the moment…..
Back to see Mr Griffiths today in wound dressings – he is certainly looking after me. In short – he drained off the seroma fluid again with a big needle from my thigh – I am getting used to this now. And the wound was really yuk and needed the slough (yellow/green goo) removing. Which he did with a scalpel and tweezers. Which left a big gaping hole in my inner thigh that you could see into. He burst another seroma and released load more fluid – more yuk. Basically because I have little fat my body is filling the gaps with fluid. He thinks I may have a leaking lymph gland and on top of that because of no fat or flesh backup the wound has nothing to heal to so isn’t repairing. Not good! So I have a vacuum pump on again to try and suck out the fluid and he hopes to fit me in for an operation on Friday afternoon – if his morning op goes well that is. I need to call Friday lunchtime. This time to cut open, clean out dead wound flesh, put in some blue dye, find the leaky lymph, seal up. Hopefully Ta da! Meanwhile I am an extra for the Walking dead with rotting stinking flesh – I am finding this really really difficult.
So for those of you that like really gruesome photos here you go…..watching what is going on takes my mind off the pain…. weird I know but it helps….
Fitting of Vac Pump….
First they clean open wound, stuff with a black sponge, seal, make a small hold and then cover to make a seal with the pump. I carry this around everywhere.
Monday 28th May 2018
Feeling really fed up – been nearly 3 weeks since op and I’m having real problems with wound healing on my thighs. Plus the fluid keeps building up and leaking. It is truly disgusting and I don’t ever want to be a wound nurse! ha ha! Would probably be ok on someone else but I hate it on myself. I am doing absolutely everything I am told. I am getting amazing a re-dressing the wounds – with a little guidance from my friend Donna who is a professional wound nurse! So grateful to her and she doesn’t even flinch when I send her the proper gruesome pictures of my inner thighs! Bless her. So the yellow/green stringy gunge stuff is called slough and apparently it’s part of the process of healing – not great but not bad. I still think my body is rotting as the wounds stink! yuk! Maybe I’m just sensitive as it’s me! I’ve had a few disasters where I’ve had to ask Phil and even Lewis to help with dressings. This is so so horrible. I just keep eating lots of good foods to help me heal from the inside. So for those with a strong stomach that like a bit of gore…….
So this wound on my inner right thigh started as a blood blister caused from the surgical pants but unfortunately it was so close to the surgical cut that it has then got worse and broken down. I also have so much fluid filling the gap where the muscle was taking – even though I am wearing double spanx and surgical pants to help reduce. So not good in this hot weather. But now I have a oozing hole in my leg in not such a nice place! So ouch!
This would is smaller on my left inner thigh – again from rubbing on the surgical pants – even though I’ve always used padding – oozing a little but not as bad so far
This one has been bad from the start as it was a popped stitch when I shuffled up the bed straight after surgery – it is actually at the base of my left bum cheek so very difficult to sit down. They have tried all sorts to try and heal. I must admit it doesn’t seem to be oozing as much but it still is and I hate the idea of a hole where there shouldn’t be a hole! But Mr Griffith’s assures me this is all normal albeit unfortunate due to the location being inner thighs and that I will hate him for a few weeks yet. Especially when he keeps sticking huge needles in me to drain fluid. But the fluid is better out that in hence not stitching up the hole!
Monday 21st May 2018
Had some wound issues today so had to go back to hospital for them to sort out. Long old day as the doctor wanted my surgeon to see. So yet again the lovely Mr Griffiths sorted me out…..
He had to aspirate the post surgery seroma swelling in my right thigh. This was interesting as he ultrasounded it first as it shows up as big black blobs. Then he stuck a rather large needle in and drained loads off. It feels more comfortable and it was fine as I am so used to needles.
Then he instructed the team to redress all my wounds. I will need to do this myself at home which should be fine now and then going back again on Thursday. He said I will get there but it won’t feel like it for a while yet.
This is tough going. But we have named the new boob “Matt boob” and the other boob “Charles boob” as he helped to sew up! It’s good to laugh!
Best thing is the killer boobs have gone! I can do this but I need to rest now.
Tuesday 8th May 2018 – Risk reducing mastectomy with TUG reconstruction and scar tidy on right….8/9 hour op!
WARNING! Micro surgery pictures….
Top left: insert of 2 thigh flaps into my left breast
Middle: Clamping and stitching of blood vessels – curly worm stuff is just gauze, green mat is a guide to measurements – 1 square = 1mm! tiny!
Top right: connecting the blood vessels but a super amazing contraption i have no idea what it is called as I was high on drugs when Mr Griffiths was explaining everything
Bottom Left: Inner thigh muscles and flap that was removed.
Have some awesome movies of how this was done so if anyone is particularly interested then pop round as I have hours to watch! ha ha! enjoy
12 days post op…. Sunday 20th May 2018
Vacuum Pump on thigh wound…..clever contraption that has allowed me home…. this is the view my surgical team got every day! Nice! My thigh scar starts at the front on my knicker line and wraps round to the back… more ouch!
Car crash victim??? feeling very battered and wounded. I know I will heal but I hurt so much still…..Bruising on my stomach is from all the blood thinning injections every day. Lots of holes and soreness from drains and still so much swelling too…. going to take some tattooing eh??…. ouch so much….
Front thigh wounds….. you can see my right thigh swelling in this one compare to the left that has the vacuum on….
Inner thigh saroma (post op swelling) plus sore blister and drain wounds (since got so much worse!)….
Few more days later with boob getting huge and swelling with a hematoma – straight to surgery again to open up, stop bleeding and clean out!
Front and back thigh incisions – drains taped on inner legs. Big bandage is over oozing wound!
Couple of days after op when bruising started to come out some beautiful colours and be really painful….
Straight after op before bruising came out…
Before Op draw up…. Right breast scar revision, TUG reconstruction (inner thighs), Left Mastectomy with immediate reconstruction….
Post 6 months DIEP….. late 2017
As you can see my scars are healing well and slowly starting to fade slightly.
New belly boob has flattened considerably and has a large dent, so this will need sorting out. But the main thing is it doesn’t hurt half as much now the implant is out. It’s only now it is gone that I realise how much it hurt and how much I had tolerated. Don’t get me wrong, it is still painful, numb, sore and aches like hell but still better!
I’m using Organic Rosehip oil (from Neals Yard) with Lavender and Frankincense doterra essential oils to help heal and fade the scars. This is the best combination I have found – definitely recommend!
Friday 25th August 2017
Just over 6 weeks post surgery. Update on the scar healing… All looking really good. Saw Mr Griffiths and his colleague yesterday and they are really happy. I need to keep massaging and doing what I’m doing and see them again in 2 months. At the next meeting they will discuss what next – lipofilling etc – if I can grow some more fat! Reduction on my good boob as I have one B cup and one D cup once they and I am happy with the new one! One step at a time – so I will still have a few more mini ops to properly sort out.
The wounds are healing really well, bruising has gone down. Swelling is reducing. My belly button looks like a flower! ha ha I have a dent and a lump above the new boob which is uncomfortable but still so much better than the awful implant! I still can’t believe I had that in for 2 years and tolerated the pain for so long. Goes to show what you can get used to! So all looking good in the whole scheme.
Monday 21st August 2017
I’m nearly 6 weeks post surgery now. I’m still a little sore but I feel more even and my boob feels so much better without the tight rock boob implant! My stomach is slowly stretching and I can pretty much walk normally now, and so long as I’m not stupid and don’t over do things then I’m feeling pretty good considering – still need to rest and be careful but I feel I’m getting there. I’ve actually managed to get back swimming this week which makes me so happy too – just gently but feels good! I have found that if I do too much I get the most intense deep painful itching nerve pain across my chest that I can’t do anything to ease except ride with and rest – it is like torture and having millions of ants crawling inside me or electric shocks with no way to ease. I have tried many things and the double dose of Amitriptyline is the only thing that takes the edge off til the nerves ease. So I am careful not to over do things! ha ha.
But today, look what has arrived! My super gory surgical photographs! It’s amazing what Mr Griffiths and his team have done. I think they are quite self explanatory but let me know if you want me to explain anything! I am so relieved to have that implant out! And here’s what it looked like……
My chunk of stomach! I purposely left my hairy bits to make sure it was obviously not to cut that low as I didn’t want to end up with a hairy boob! Seeing this you can understand why when they sewed me up it was so tight I couldn’t stand straight.
These pics show the vessel Mr Griffiths had to remove carefully and then rejoin in my chest. So clever.
And the dreaded implant that caused so much problem! and the capsulated scar tissue that surrounded it!
Tuesday 1st August 2017
3 weeks post surgery! So far so good, no weeping wounds, no skin rejections, all good…..
So as you can see I’m healing really well. Still have a few stitches to dissolve but bruising has gone down and swelling is reducing. I’m still in a lot of pain and soreness. My whole body feels like it’s fallen in stinging nettles which I think is the nerves healing. And I’m still so exhausted – my body just wants me to eat and sleep! ha ha! But all good. I’m hoping I can start to swim again soon!
I’m still wearing my compression knickers, sports bra and compression band – apparently we need to wear all this 24 hours a day for 6 weeks! But to be honest I find it unbearable all the time so it’s all on/off. But by the end of the day or if I go out walking I find I need it otherwise my stomach literally feels like it will explode! I’m being a good patient!
Monday 24th July 2017
Nearly 2 weeks post surgery. I’m managing to walk upright more now and slowing getting back to normal. I still feel like I’ve been used as a boxing bag – especially my ribs, shoulders and hips but as Mr Griffiths said I have had a chunk of my stomach removed, an implant scrapped out and then remoulded so I should expect to feel a little delicate and tired! I am so glad I invested time in swimming and yoga before my surgery as I am sure this has helped me so far. Today Mr Matt Griffiths said I’m doing very well, all looks good, he seemed happy with my progress and healing and I could possibly be back swimming gently within a few weeks! yay! He’s also removed the mesh and has given me the ok to pick at the remaining glue while in the shower! Not due to see him for another 6 weeks unless I am worried. Fingers crossed!
So here are some more pictures of my new body….. I can’t quite get excited yet as I still feel like frankensteins monster but time will tell…..
Monday 17th July 2017
I am home! I’m still in a lot of pain but it’s tolerable. Here are some pics nearly a week after surgery for those of you who like the gruesome stuff! My stomach scar is extensive – hip to hip as Dr Griffiths needed to have as much fat as possible to re stuff the boob once the implant was removed – of course he uses much more technical terms rather than ‘re stuffing’! It’s very tight, swollen and bruised, I can hardly stand straight – the lack of flesh has made this much more difficult in my case. But I’m hoping my recovery will be quick and as we know from having babies skin stretches well.
My new skin suit feels very weird though. I look strange too – I don’t have any stomach contours or rounding, my lady bits have grown upwards and my boobies and been pulled downwards. My belly button has been repositioned too. I feel quite alien at the moment. Time and lots of rest will tell.
In these pics I’m laying down. Basically Mr Griffiths has reopened my original implant scar, removed the implant, strattice, scaring and generally cleaned up. He’s reattached my pec major muscle to my chest wall and sternum – this is the swelling and deformity you can see at the top of the boob. Believe me this hurts a lot! As the blood vessels were connected (they call this the anastomosis site) in the centre of my chest (by my cleavage) it is very sore there too – in fact it even hurts to breath. You have to be very careful not to compromise this area as if the blood connection was lost the skin could die.
With this side view you can see the new boob will need some tweaking and plumping out. When the muscle contracts and swelling goes down it should look less monstrous! At the moment it’s just a relieve to have the implant out.
The extra spots of wounds you can see are the moles I had removed and where I had drains in.
Wednesday 12th July 2017
Monday 10th July 2017
Today we have spent over 4 hours in hospital going through meetings, discussions, paperwork, more blood tests etc etc. Dr Griffiths has agreed to remove a few of my moles – the little circles. And he has drawn all over me ready for surgery! The x-ray is the fat of my stomach he will use to build a small boobie!
Unfortunately after all this we were told that there are no beds. The hospital is in a crisis and I may not get my surgery tomorrow. So I am home to sleep and we need to head back again by 7am tomorrow – Phil will drop me off with my luggage and I will wait – probably a few hours, for a final decision. Fingers crossed as my emotions are in pieces!
Sunday 9th July 2017
I’ve recovered well from the Oophorectomy back in September. I still have occasional nerve type pain and I have some hardened areas around the scars but on the whole all good. Can’t say the same about the hot sweats and immediate full on menopause but hey hum!
So as promised here is a full on ‘before‘ DIEP surgery photo. I have managed to gain weight for surgery – I am nearly 50kg! yay! which I think is nearly 8 stone (apparently I am perfect by medical charts). So I have some tummy flesh to sculpt a new boob which is good. But you can see that the implant side has started to flatten and rise due to capsulation in comparison to the earlier photos. Will post some post ops pics as soon as I am able.
Monday 3rd October 2016
One week later….
As you can see my stomach is still really bloated and sore but it’s starting to go down. I’m putting arnica gel on the bruising to help with healing. Plus I’ve been going on little walks about to reduce the gas and get my energy levels back up again and drinking lots of peppermint tea! I’m going to get the stitches taken out tomorrow as the one to the side is rubbing on everything and getting sore.
I really did not think this op would hurt so much – it’s really knocked me for six! I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach – a lot – not that I’ve ever been punched in the stomach but I imagine this is what it feels like! I just feel very battered – more so than it actually looks. I don’t even feel like going swimming or yoga! All I want to do is sit about and rest – this is so not me! I hope I get better quickly! Will update on state of repair soon x.
Monday 26th September 2016
Today I had a Laparoscopic Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy
This was surgery to removed both my ovaries and tubes. I opted to have this as risk reduction to breast cancer spreading as the ovaries and tubes are made of the same tissue as breast. But more importantly so I didn’t have to continue to have the monthly Zoladex injections to shut my ovaries down and to put me in a post-menopause state which will enable me more options of cancer reducing medication (aromatase inhibitors). I’m lucky and I’ve had my children – it was a ‘no brainer’ as the injections are painful and I would have needed to be on them for years!
This op is done keyhole to help with a quicker recovery after. I had an incision in my belly button where the camera was inserted. Also where the air was put in to blow my stomach up to make it easier for the surgeons to see what they were doing – as you can see my stomach is still very swollen but not as bad as I thought it would be. Then I had another incision on my left side and another one in the centre of my bikini line. All nice and neat from what I can see so far.
They had a good look inside and took lots of pictures. My liver, intestines, womb etc all looked good. My gall bladder was swollen but they think this was because I hadn’t eaten or drank before the op. My ovaries and tubes have been removed and sent to histology but the surgeon said they looked fine as far as he could tell and doesn’t expect any abnormal results. All good. The surgeons kept saying that they wished everyone was as easy to operate on as it didn’t have any fat to cut through! ha ha!
Here are some pics of my internal organs – the top left is my liver, not sure what everything else is. I had to take the pics quickly as I wasn’t really allowed to! Annoying as they are of me!
In these ones you can see my intestines really well. I think the big pink thing is my uterus and the white is my ovaries but I’m not sure. I was only just out from op when they explained what was what and a bit fuzzy!
But omg! When I woke up the pain! I was not prepared for how much I hurt. Not as much as after breast surgery but a lot more that I thought – and more than they thought! I don’t think surgery agrees with me! I had 3 lots of pain meds IV instead of morphine (can’t remember what now but that didn’t work so well), so I had some oramorph (liquid morphine) – this helped but unfortunately makes me feel extremely sick. I had a few doses and had to stop. I’m now just on paracetamol and ibuprofen and in a lot of pain. I really didn’t think keyhole surgery would hurt so much but they explained it’s because I didn’t have much fat, and am slim! I can hardly walk at the moment! My core muscles and stomach hurt more than after having babies! So painful. It’s only day 2 but I’ll let you know how I go with the healing. Good thing is I have no choice but to rest – so movie binge it is!
Monday 2nd May 2016 – Herceptin number 16 out of 18!
So nearly there – such a good feeling – just 2 more to go!
Because the breast cancer I had was HER2+ I can have these injections to help control the growth of cancerous cells – it works by blocking the effects of the protein and encourages the immune system to attack the abnormal cells and help control them. If the cancer came back and was the same HER2+ I would be able to have this again – for the rest of my life or until it didn’t work if need be. It truly is a super drug and I feel so lucky to have been able to tolerate it.
I’m given the Herceptin injection into my thigh (most fat there!). It stings like a lot of angry wasps! Not that I know what that feels like but I know what one sting feels like and it feels like a lot more! My leg ends up very swollen, bruised and painful for a few days. But this time the nurse tried something different. The injection has to be administered very slowly so takes between 5-10 minutes – so this time every minute she moved the injection site – if you look carefully you can see lots of pin pricks. It still stung but not as much I think and the reaction doesn’t seem quite so bad…..not so swollen….
It usually looks like this….
Thursday 4th March – 9 months post surgery
Thought I’d upload some updated pictures so you can see I’ve healed extremely well. There is so little on the internet to compare with but I think it’s looking as good as it could be. Great result from a surgeon’s perspective! I must admit the ‘feel’ isn’t great to say the least – I have nicknamed it ‘rock boob’! And believe me it really is similar to having a rock attached to your chest!
The cording from my lymph dissection has pretty much gone – it’s still tight but I make sure I do my stretches every morning and swim and yoga as much as I am able which helps. This also seems to be helping with my chest muscle which is stretched over the top of the implant to hold it in place. Here’s a diagram to help visualise.
I eat well to help my keep my skin in tip top condition – lots of carrots and veg! I am sure the aloe vera has to take the credit after radiotherapy. But since then I always use a mixture of natural coconut and shea butter oil (sometimes I add a few drops of essential oils) along with the aloe which I put on after every shower – it’s keeping my skin soft and supple and in good condition.
The new boob feels very strange and sits higher and the skin doesn’t move over the implant – it is very rigid. But Dr Chakravorty says my skin is amazing and he still can’t believe I’ve even had radiotherapy! Always a positive! I have been so lucky as I didn’t get any complications after surgery – just tightening from the radiotherapy which is gradually easing, but nothing serious or distorting.
The new boob can still be very sore where the attachments of the strattice mesh are attached to my muscles which make it uncomfortable to wear a bra, but this is continuing to ease slowly too – I continue to yoga and stretch every day to help this. You can also see from the pics my ‘good’ boob still needs dealing with (it has fed 3 babies and not tried to kill me yet!). But I would like it evened up – all under discussion at the moment, but no rush as no surgery until Herceptin is done!
3 months post surgery and new boob is looking good…..
Thursday 6th August
My angled radiation tanning!
Bit sore but not too bad. Has made the scars pinker and it’s quite itchy and just feels like sunburn which I’m used to as that’s the feeling after surgery anyway. There is a risk that some of the skin will stay tinted forever but I’m sure this will fade with time. Been using my aloe vera plants – so cooling and calms the skin.
Thursday 16th July: First Radiotherapy treatment
I have to lay very still in this position – the radiologists line me up exactly using the tattoo dots and co-ordinates. Then the machine lowers over me and around me at various angles to zap my chest area and lymph in my neck. It gets quite close but doesn’t touch. So clever!
Thursday 2nd July: Radiotherapy Planning: Here are some pictures of the CT Scanner – very si-fi!
I had to lay on this. Didn’t take long to get me into position. Then I had to lay very still while they measured me and tattooed 3 tiny dots on me – one either side of my chest and one in the middle – didn’t hurt, bit like an injection. This was so they can line me up every time for treatment. Then took a few minutes for a CT scan just whizzes me through the donut a few times. All done! Totally fine.
Not sure if you can see from this pic but there is a tiny blue/black dot in the dip of my chest – this is the tattoo dot. Also, I find it hilarious when I lay down how my good boob disappears under my left armpit but the new boob just sits upright and doesn’t move!!! So strange! Going to take a while to get used to this – really does feel like a coconut still!
Sunday 28th June: nearly 5 weeks after surgery: healing really well, I’ve been really lucky not to have any infection (so far anyway!). As you can see swelling has gone down considerably which is so much more comfortable as don’t feel I’m going to burst! Arm pit healing well too – in time cording and tightness will heal. Still feels sunburnt and very tingly which is the nerves – this feeling worsens if I do too much and towards the end of each day. Still very difficult to sleep as can’t get comfortable. Attachment area of biomesh – under and to the side of new boob are still very tender. But I suppose most of the healing is going on inside – it’s amazing isn’t it! Thank you Dr Chakravorty. Let’s hope the radiotherapy doesn’t ruin it too much!
Just over 11 weeks post last chemo, look at my hair! I have started using a tiny bit of shampoo on it!! ha ha! Still very easy but so nice to have a covering now. Eyebrows are back and eyelashes growing too! The Herceptin may thin my hair again but hopefully it’ll grow back thick enough not to notice too much. Will take another pic in a months or so.
Tuesday 23rd June 2015: 4 weeks after surgery I have some cording under my arm from the op. This is essentially fibrous scar tissue that will heal on it’s own but because I have to have radiotherapy and a side effect is tightness we need to get this sorted before treatment. I am having physiotherapy to stretch and snap the tissue. This is quite painful but good pain. It is such a relief as my whole right side feels very tight and restricted.
It’s a bit like a mini batwing in my armpit but stretch from across my chest down my right arm.
Here’s a picture – usually your armpit would be smooth – you can see the pull under mine! Very difficult to shave!!!
A few people have asked how exactly the surgery was done. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos to show you, but I have seen some and it really was amazing! If you like that sort of thing. Basically Dr Chakravorty cut a tear drop shape out across my boob and around the nipple. He then needed to separate the breast tissue from my skin as I was having skin preserving. To do this he used a tool to cauterise the tissue – this helped to stop excessive bleeding too. It is important to leave some tissue attached to the skin otherwise the skin would die. Think of it like a tree – the nipple is the tree trunk but under the grass are loads of roots – dig the roots out and then cover the hole back over with the grass! So all scooped out. They washed my insides out with water/saline. X-rayed me while open just to check. Stretched some muscle from my chest wall and attached the biomesh, inserted the implant and sewed me up! Ta da! new boob!
As for the lymph nodes. Similar – small cut in armpit. Stretch the skin (it’s amazing how much our skin stretches! believe me I have seen the picture!), reach in, scoop out killer cancerous lymph, sew back up!
It’s all a bit more complicated than that but I think you may get the idea! Clever eh? Totally fascinates me – I would love to be an assistant in surgery!
11 days after surgery:
No more dressings! Amazing plastic surgery don’t you think? Lots of healing to go as still in quite a bit of pain and very sore. My stretch marks are so noticeable too – think I have a bit of swelling from saroma fluid as feel very stretched! Going to have to be so careful in the sun too – notice my sun tan from yesterday with a factor 30 on! Also, all my wounds from the drains and stitches – Phil says I look like I’ve been shot with a shotgun!
Unveiling of New Boob:
Dr Chakravorty’s art work! I’m very impressed!
All wrapped up!
Stockings to stop blood clots! I have to wear these all the time at the moment! I think they are meant to be below the knee but they are a bit big for me!
Bought my surgical bra tops from Macom, one red to brighten my day and a black one to go with everything! – would highly recommend these as they have no seams to rub – I need to wear these 24 hours a day for weeks to hold everything in place – they are very tight and secure so could use for sports in the future!
Also took some pics of my wrapping from surgery – it’s very tight waterproof sticky tape, then underneath I have the drains sewn in and more dressings etc – this should be coming off on wednesday so we get to see my surgeons artwork. I feel like I’m being set in a plaster cast for a movie or something!
Here are pictures of the drains in case anyone wondered what I have to carry around! – these collect excess fluid after op. And the leg compressors I had to have on to prevent blood clots – they take it in turns to inflate over each calf. Our calf muscles are very important for our circulation as they work as a secondary pump to our heart.
You can’t really see very well but here are the pictures of the old and new mammograms – the cancer has shrunk to almost nothing! Brilliant boobie!
You can see the markers (the bright white hook things) and if you look carefully you can see a mass of darker white stuff – this was the cancer cells – like a galaxy. They think that the original duct cancer somehow escaped from the duct and mutated and spread to the lymph but seems to have almost disappeared! So was worth the horrid chemo. Still have to have op but makes it much more promising that they can get all the cells now.
Bit red and inflamed but otherwise ok. The bottom left picture is of the pollop in my stomach.
Bruising from core biopsies:
I had 2 lots of core biopsies – with the help of ultra sound they can insert a needle with a tiny grabber (Phil said it looked a bit like a screwdriver!) to take samples of the tissue they need to test. You have to stay really still. I also had a core biopsy done with the computer and mammogram machine.
This really really hurt as I was so anxious the 3 anethestics didn’t work so I felt everything!
I don’t usually bruise easily! Ouch!